Much more than a tremor…

One of the biggest misconceptions about Parkinson’s is that it’s ‘just a tremor’ — so this week we’re taking a closer look at some other important aspects of the condition and the latest research advances.

Claire Bale
Apr 9, 2018 · 6 min read

But…

Not everyone with Parkinson’s has a tremor. One study of 100 people with Parkinson’s showed that 68 had tremor at diagnosis, 75 experienced it during the course of the condition, and 9 lost their tremor later on.


Falls

Loss of balance and falling affects many people with Parkinson’s and the problem tends to increase over time. Falls are one of the major reasons that people with Parkinson’s are admitted to hospital, and fear of falling can prevent people from getting out and about, which can have a huge impact on independence, social relationships and physical activity.

What research is being done?

A team at the University of Newcastle is studying when and why people fall. They have found that falls are common, even in the early stages of Parkinson’s, and believe that finding ways to predict falls could be key to preventing them and keeping people active and independent.

Freezing

More than a third of patients with Parkinson experience freezing, which many describe as like their feet getting ‘glued to the ground’. While walking, people can suddenly lose the ability to lift their feet and can become stuck in place for several seconds or even minutes despite their efforts to continue.

What research is being done?

Researchers are developing strategies to help people who experience freezing…

Constipation

People with Parkinson’s are more likely to experience constipation — infrequent and/or difficult to pass stools — than the general population.

What research is being done?

Research has shown that constipation is an issue that often occurs before the main movement symptoms of Parkinson’s appear and that there may be important changes in both the bacteria that live in the gut and the nerve cells that connect the gut to the brain. Read more about this in our recent blog.

Pain

Many people with Parkinson’s experience pain as part of the condition which can be extremely debilitating.

What research is being done?

Some research suggests that pain in Parkinson’s is mainly caused by the physical symptoms of the condition — like joint stiffness and muscle cramps.

Swallowing

Swallowing occurs on average about 1000 times a day. But as Parkinson’s progresses, some people with the condition experience swallowing problems due to how the condition affects the control of their throat muscles.

What research is being done?

Researchers at the University of Manchester are exploring new techniques to treat swallowing difficulties. These include using different types of electrical pulse to stimulate the area of the brain that controls swallowing, and stimulating the throat muscles directly with an electrical current.

Anxiety

Some people with Parkinson’s may experience anxiety including feelings of unease, worry and fear, these symptoms can be related to changes in the brain caused by Parkinson’s.

What research is being done?

Drug treatments aimed at tackling these symptoms are often not as effective in people with Parkinson’s so we really need new ways to manage these symptoms as they can have a huge impact on quality of life.

  • Another team, based at Kings College London, are testing another approach which uses computer-based exercises to understand and potentially even reduce anxiety. Find out more.

What have we missed?

We haven’t been able to cover every aspect of Parkinson’s in this blog, so if we’ve missed something that’s really important to you that you’d like us to blog about in future please let us know in the comments below.

Join us!

It’s vital that people affected by Parkinson’s are involved in research — helping to set the priorities, shape the questions and find the answers to problems like those highlighted in this blog.

Parkinson’s UK

Get the latest research news, discover more about Parkinson’s and read about how others are getting involved. For information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk

Claire Bale

Written by

Head of Research Communications and Engagement, Parkinson’s UK

Parkinson’s UK

Get the latest research news, discover more about Parkinson’s and read about how others are getting involved. For information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk